Box Office Preview – Is GEMINI MAN’s two Will Smiths enough to dethrone one Joaquin JOKER? 

Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview!

With Joker opening so well this past weekend, there’s really only the chance of one movie possibly taking over the #1 spot, but honestly, I don’t see it happening.

GEMINI MAN (Paramount)

Gemini Man
Paramount Pictures

Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Douglas Hodge
Directed By: Ang Lee (Life of PI, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Hulk and lots more)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

This new action sci-fi thriller that teams box office superstar Will Smith with two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee will be doing its very best this weekend to take business away from Joker. Frankly, you’ll REALLY have to be a Will Smith fan for this one, cause there are two of him. You see, in this one, Smith plays an aging hitman who has to kill a younger clone of himself, and it’s probably more in Smith’s fieldhouse than Lee’s.

Smith is coming off the biggest hit of his entire career with Disney’s Aladdin’s billion dollar worldwide gross. Gemini Man is a very different movie, more in the vein of Smith’s sci-fi action thrillers from the past like 1996’s Independence Day and 2004’s I, Robot, both which opened over $50 million. Then again, it could be viewed as something in the vein of 2013’s dog After Earth, which only grossed $60.5 million after an opening of $27.5 million. That one was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, although that fact was kept on the down low.

Smith and Lee have some able support in Gemini Man from Mary Elizabeth Winstead (the Huntress in next year’s Birds of Prey), Clive Owen and Benedict Wong from Doctor Strange, but this movie is really about whether the partnering of Smith with an Oscar-winning filmmaker like Lee can keep his latest run at the box office going.

Like Lee’s last film, an adaptation of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, this one is relying heavily on the technology not just that used to create a younger version of Smith, but also the higher frame rate which presumably can convince moviegoers to pay the higher ticket prices to see it that way. (Honestly, it didn’t really work with Billy Lynn’s which was a huge bomb for Sony.)

Like After Earth, this one has gotten pretty rotten reviews, which makes one wonder why Paramount let film critics release their thoughts so far in advance? Heck, they didn’t even screen the alligator film Crawl for critics

With such mediocre reviews, one expects that the primary audience for the movie i.e. dudes from 15 to 30 or so might be dubious of spending their money on this one, although that would just keep it under $30 million and in second place against Joker in weekend two.


The Addams Family
U.A. Releasing

Voice Cast: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Tituss Burgess, Elsie Fischer
Directed By: Greg Tiernan (Sausage Party), Conrad Vernon (Sausage Party, Monsters vs. Aliens, Shrek 2, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted)
MPAA Rating: PG

The Addams Family is a tougher one to predict only because there’s a lot going for it in terms of being based on popular comic, TV and movie characters first created by Charles Addams for a successful series of New Yorker cartoons, leading to an even more successful ‘60s television sitcom that aired on ABC around the same period as CBS’ The Munsters. They were both were strange and weird families made up of monsters that American families immediately related to.

Unlike The Munsters, the ‘60s Addams Family remained so popular in reruns in the ‘70s  and ‘80s that director Barry Sonnenfeld and Paramount were able to turn it into two highly-successful ‘90s movies starring Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams, Raul Juliaas Gomez, Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and made a star out of Christina Riccias Wednesday Addams. The first movie made $113 million in 1991 after a $24.2 million Thanksgiving opening, although its 1993 sequel bombed with just $48.9 million

The voice cast for this movie is absolutely insane, as you can imagine, because most of the actors probably grew up on some of the Addams Family stuff mentioned above.   Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron are probably the biggest stars, voicing Morticia and Gomez, but there’s an abundance of riches with Finn Wolfhard (star of the biggest hit and the biggest bomb of September), Nick Kroll, Bette Midler,Allison Janney and lots more. That should add to a very funny movie, especially with the directors of Seth Rogen’s hit animated film Sausage Partyat the helm.

This is the second animated film of the year for U.A. Releasing who released LAIKA’s Missing Link, featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Gallifianakis and Zoe Saldana, and it became the stop-motion animation studio’s biggest bomb to date with just $16.6 million in April. That’s rather daunting for a studio that’s trying to succeed with another animated movie that granted, is based on a much-better known IP (intellectual property).

It will be interesting to see how this does, because animated movies not produced or released by Disney just haven’t been doing very well this year as seen by the recent DreamWorks Animation flop Abominable that is struggling to make $100 million.

Like Jexi below, I really haven’t seen very much advertising for this movie and U.A. Releasing hasn’t made it that easy for critics to see and review it – reviews are embargoed until Thursday afternoon — so basically the studio is in the same boat as Abominable where it has to rely on kids having seen the trailer in front of one of the summer family movies.

I actually think the brand name of The Addams Family might help convince parents that remember the TV show and original movie fondly to bring their kids to see the movie, so maybe this will be the Hotel Transylvania fall family hit that we’ve been waiting for. Opening in nearly 4,000 theaters, this should be able to match the opening of Abominable with $20 million or more, but that would actually be a strong showing for U.A., which has yet to open a movie over $15 million. Having schools out on Monday for Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly Columbus Day) should definitely help the movie hold its business through the weekend. (There is some thought that this might beat the Will Smith this weekend for second place, but I just don’t think there’s enough awareness to make that happen.)

My Review of The Addams Family

JEXI (CBS Films)

CBS Films

Cast: Adam Devine, Rose Byrne, Justin Hartley, Michael Peña, Charlyne Yi, Wanda Sykes, Alexandra Shipp
Written and directed by: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (Bad Moms, Bad Moms Christmas, 21 & Over)
MPAA Rating: R

The odd man out for the weekend is this tech rom-com starring Adam Devine from Comedy Central’s Workaholics and the Pitch Perfect movies, a movie that really doesn’t seem to be getting much promotion. Honestly, I might not know this movie existed if I didn’t see the trailer in front of some movie I saw in theaters over the summer but otherwise? NADA. Apparently, it’s a raunchier version of Spike Jonez’ Herwhere Devine falls in love with his smartphone’s Siri-like helper, or vice versa.

This is an R-rated comedy from the filmmakers behind Bad Momsand its sequel, both which were pretty defining hits for STXfilms, but this is for CBS Films, who haven’t had nearly as much success with comedies. Even saying that, CBS’ highest grossing film was the comedy Last Vegas, but that had a primo cast of acting vets where this basically has Devine and a couple decent supporting cast in Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids and Michael Peńa from Ant-Man.

In fact, I’d probably see the movie for the latter two, more than for the premise or for Devine, but CBS Films, maybe wisely, have decided not to screen this one for critics at all. That actually might hurt the movie more than help since often reviews will help with

At one point, I thought Jexic ould find enough of an audience to make $10 million or more, but I’ve seen almost nothing on the movie other than that one trailer, which makes me think it’s being dumped into a weekend where it doesn’t stand a chance of making an impact. It probably will end up making closer to $5 million, more or less, which means it might lose fourth place to Abominable, but I doubt this will make more than $20 million.

It’s pretty obvious that Joker will remain #1 this weekend, because I don’t see any of the three new movies opening with more than $40 million (or even $30 million), but we’ll have to see if it has a bigger than usual drop or holds up well.

This Week’s Box Office Predictions:

  1. Joker (Warner Bros.) – $42.5 million -56%
  2. Gemini Man (Paramount) – $26.3 million N/A
  3. The Addams Family (U.A. Releasing) – $24.5 million N/A (up $1.5 million)*
  4. Abominable (DreamWorks/Universal) – $6.5 million -45% (down .5 million)*
  5. Jexi (CBS Films) – $5.6 million N/A
  6. Downton Abbey (Focus Features) – $4.6 million -43%
  7. Hustlers (STXfilms) – $3.6 million -45%  (down .4 million)*
  8. Judy (Roadside Attractions) – $3 million -35%
  9. It: Chapter Two (New Line/WB) – $2.4 million -53% (down .1 million)*
  10. Ad Astra (20thCentury Fox) – $1.9 million -55% (down .3 million)*

*UPDATE: Quite a few theater counts have changed since earlier in the week with most of the returning movies losing more theaters than I expected, and The Addams Family opening in just over 4,000 theaters, which has to be a new high for U.A. Releasing.

Some decent limited releases this weekend, including Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which has been playing a number of festivals and receiving raving reviews for the past few months. Animal Kingdomdirector David Michôd’s new film The King, is an adaptation of some of Shakespeare’s King Henry plays, starring Timothee Chalamet as Henry the 5th as well as co-writer Joel Edgerton as his trusty battle companion and Robert Pattinson in one of his best (or at least craziest) roles of the year.

Also, if you’re lucky enough to live in a city where Vince Gilligan’s El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie will be screened, you can watch it with other Breaking Bad fans. Otherwise, you’ll just be watching it on Netflix where it’s also streaming Friday.

Next week, Angelina Jolie is back as Sleeping Beauty’s arch-nemesis in Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, plus my most anticipated sequel in ten years, Zombieland Double Tap!